The HANNspree FIM Superbike World Championship enters its ninth round this coming weekend, at another firm favorite for riders and fans alike, Brno, in the Czech Republic. A modern era circuit with its roots very firmly in the heritage of the old road courses that have hosted races in this area since the early decades of the previous century, Brno is a classic of its type, with wide chicanes that are still attacked with pace, plus uphill and downhill sections that are a real test of engine power and front end set-up.
After winning another two races at the previous round, the experienced Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) now has eight race victories in 2010, and a 37-point championship lead over Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare). Haslam enters the Brno round determined to peg back Biaggi, but the fact that Brno is Biaggi’s favourite circuit of all, where he won a race on his Aprilia RSV4 last year, may hamper Haslam’s ambitions. But Haslam has been a revelation this year too, which leaves a fascinating battle of nerves all ready to be played out for the benefit of the fans this coming weekend. Like many of their peers, both official Aprilia and Suzuki teams left the previous round of Misano and went directly to Imola for a two-day test.
Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati) will be ready to go for more wins and podiums on his well-supported 1198 machine, while his team-mate Shane Byrne will be out to overcome the effects of a nasty left hand laceration suffered at the Misano tests. Checa still leads the factory Ducati Xerox duo of Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, but for Michel in particular, Brno is his ideal venue, one he has enjoyed success at both as a privateer and a factory rider. He scored his first ever podiums in WSBK at Brno, and has scored at least one top three finish there every year since 2006. Curiously, he has never quite taken a win at Brno, however.
Brno should be a new track for some riders, but for others it is a well-known venue. Troy Corser (BMW Motorrad Motorsport) has been a rider on the rise this year, and at Brno he has also a strong record, with three of his previous 33 race wins coming in the Czech Republic. His teammate Ruben Xaus is out to eradicate bad memories of a femur fracture he suffered in 2009 at the base of the uphill section.
For local riders the sight of Jakub Smrz racing gladdens the heart at any time and for the Pata B&G team rider a last minute swap to Aprilia RSV4 machinery may well bring him back into the upper echelons of the results sheets. In the official Aprilia team Leon Camier (Aprilia Alitalia) will be out, with the second works Suzuki coming from Sylvain Guintoli (Alstare Suzuki).
With seven manufacturers on the grid in 2010, the talent pool is deep and wide, and in the Honda camp Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) is still the man most likely to post the strongest results, despite his team-mate Max Neukirchner and privateer Broc Parkes (ECHO CRS Honda) finding improvements to their respective set-ups during the Imola tests.
Yamaha Sterilgarda duo James Toseland and Cal Crutchlow are looking for a step-up in pace to allow them to compete for wins in 2010, a season in which everything has moved forward several steps compared to even 2009. Each is capable and if they qualify well, can be in with a chance on raceday.
One squad particularly pleased to have tested at Imola last week is the official Kawasaki Racing Team, and at the Italian venue Tom Sykes and Chris Vermeulen each found a way forward with machine set-up, leaving them more confident of better finishes as the season wears on.
The impressive Luca Scassa (Supersonic) and experienced Lorenzo Lanzi (DFX Ducati) will be two more privateers competing at Brno and the pairing of Roger Lee Hayden and Matteo Baiocco will be looking for their best performances of the year on their Pedercini Kawasakis.
Points (after 8 rounds of 13):
1. Biaggi 307
2. Haslam 270
3. Checa 172
4. Rea 158
5. Haga 151
6. Corser 149
7. Toseland 138
8. Fabrizio 131
9. Camier 130
10. Crutchlow 120
1. Aprilia 313
2. Suzuki 283
3. Ducati 250
4. Yamaha 177
5. Honda 169
6. BMW 152
7. Kawasaki 47
SUPERSPORT: The championship lead changed hands at Misano as Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) won and Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) scored second, but there are only three points in it. Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Motocard.com) is only 13 points off a share of the lead with five rounds remaining, including Brno. All of the top three have won races so far, Laverty five, Sofuoglu two and Lascorz a single. ParkinGO Triumph BE-1 rider Chaz Davies sits fourth, 33 points up and away from his team-mate David Salom. Davies is 36 away from both Robbin Harms (Harms Benjan Honda) and Michele Pirro, Sofuoglu’s team-mate. This will be a home race for the Intermoto Czech Honda team that fields Gino Rea and Massimo Roccoli, and they will also have one of a total of eight one event riders swelling the ranks of this division this weekend, Czech rider Tomas Holubec.
Points (after 8 rounds of 13):
1. Laverty 161
2. Sofuoglu 158
3. Lascorz 148
4. Davies 97
5. Salom 64
7. Pirro 58
8. Rea 54
Manufacturers: 1. Honda 195; 2. Kawasaki 148; 3. Triumph 107; 4. Yamaha 11
SUPERSTOCK 1000: Ayrton Badovini (BMW Motorrad Italia) has claimed the 2010 version of the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup as something of his own private realm this year, winning five from five, with another five races still to run. He will have a strong selection of chasers to deal with as usual, Maxime Berger (Ten Kate Racing Junior Honda), Michele Magnoni (Honda), Davide Giugliano (Team06 Suzuki) and Sylvain Barrier (Garnier Junior Racing BMW) just a few of them. There is a Czech wildcard in the shape of Michal Sambra (Automotoklub Masarykuv Okruh BMW), plus two other one-event riders in this popular class.
Points (after 5 rounds of 10): 1. Badovini 125; 2. Berger 66; 3.Magnoni 63; 4.Giugliano 53; 5. Barrier 47; 6. Antonelli 41; 7.Baz 37; 8. Bussolotti 37; Manufacturers: 1. BMW 125; 2. Honda 93; 3. Suzuki 60; 4. Yamaha 39; 5. Kawasaki 36; 6. Ducati 26; 7. KTM 25; 8. Aprilia 13.
SUPERSTOCK 600: Five rounds gone and five to go in the 600 Superstock class and French youngster Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Racing Yamaha) heads up Florian Marino (Ten Kate Junior Racing Honda) by 25 points, with Federico D’Annunzio (Martini Corse Yamaha) third. The top two are the only race winners so far.
Points (after 5 rounds of 10): 1. Guarnoni 111; 2. Marino 86; 3. D’Annunzio 61; 4. Karlsen 51; 5. Calero Perez 44; 6. Lombardi 43; 7. Lanusse 39; 8. Fanelli 38
THE CIRCUIT: Brno in its most modern guise is a 5.403km track that weaves its way through the forests and the hills above the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno. It is the asphalt and gravel embodiment of the idea that a modern, safe circuit does not have to be tight and cramped, and the real proof that Brno worked right first time is that it has hardly been changed at all since it was first built in 1987, despite huge advances in engine outputs and corner speeds in that time. The power sapping last hill takes the riders up a gradient of over 7%, making this a place where the true worth of any engine is proved in the toughest test of all, real racing.